Charles Nealley appeal on son's desertion, 1863


Charles Nealley wrote from Portsmouth Navy Yard to Brig. Gen. George F. Shepley, military governor of Louisiana and former commander of the 12th Maine Volunteer Infantry, about his son Pvt. Charles E. Nealley who had enlisted in the 12th Maine in November 1861 at age 19.

Nealley, of South Berwick, who was in Co. B, was moved into the Signal Corps when his regiment got to New Orleans in early 1862. His father wrote that the son liked the assignment, but wanted to return to his own regiment when a new commander took over the Signal Corps.

When Nealley was denied his request to return to the 12th Maine, he deserted and joined the crew of the Owasco,, a Union gunboat that was part of the blockade at New Orleans. Nealley joined under an assumed name.

His father asked Shepley to allow the son to go back to his given name and not be considered a deserter, since he was still serving the Union cause.

Nealley was mustered out of the 12th Maine on June 15, 1863 and enlisted as an "ordinary seaman" in August 1864.


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